In a showdown of indica vs sativa, everyone wins, but the gains come in different ways depending on which subspecies of cannabis you’re using. No matter what, weed makes a partaker feel good, but indica and sativa truly offer different highs. Uplifting or mellow, there’s a bud for that.

Hanging out in the circle, the terms have probably been tossed about, but you’re not sure how indica and sativa differ. Debates over differences in the indica vs sativa high have cropped up, with some researchers trying to disprove a variation even exists. Sampling a little of each subspecies will quickly reveal the differences.

Over time and with experience, a user can identify which subspecies they’re using by the way they feel. A quick takeaway reveals indica as a lush, warm high of the body, something akin to lying in the warm sand while the sun kisses your skin. You’re a seashell in the waves. With sativa, you are the waves, dancing along the coast in an uplifted buzz. More the cerebral high, sativa tames busy thoughts and turns them to creative bits of inspiration. The hybrids shouldn’t be forgotten. Crafted from a blend of indica and sativa, users find the best of both greens in one bud.beach and sky

It’s no secret cannabis is good for what ails you, but indica strains ease one set of symptoms while sativa soothes others. Either choice, medical afflictions will find some relief. Studies have been conducted over the past decades, proving what users upon users have known for centuries. Cannabis is a plant providing benefits without end, for recreational, medical, and even industrial use.

Though many use cannabis, not everyone knows the distinctions. Indica and sativa are both subspecies of the cannabis plant. Within these two subspecies are the strains and all their wild names. Not only do the pair offer varied effects, the two differ in their appearances as well. Indica is a short, bushy plant thriving in cooler environments while sativa stands tall and thin in warm climates. Their buds follow suit, indica plants drying into tight, dense nuggets while sativa appears longer with wispy leaves. In short, sativa and indica may be varying subspecies of the cannabis plant, but both leave you feeling like a winner.

Indica vs Sativa – The Effects

Let’s begin our examination of indica versus sativa with a look at the high produced by the two subspecies. The first thing you should know? When it comes to indica vs sativa, both involve good feelings, but from there they differ. The following information does not make for hard, fast rules when it comes to indica vs sativa, but more a generalization of what you should expect.

Indica brings relaxation to the busiest of bodies. Chilling is the name of indica’s game. An easy way to remember this? Indica equals “in ‘da couch”.  Once you’ve inhaled or snacked on an indica strain, hitting your favorite comfy spot will be a must, so be prepared. Giving the body a loose and limber feel, indica strains happily reach deep into the muscles and bones, offering much needed relaxation to the user.

Coming home from work at the end of the day provides a perfect opportunity to hit the indica.  It’s exactly what you need to mellow out after a day on the job as indica strains are known to mellow a user. With nervous energy waning away, you’ll be left with a carefree mindset and a bodily feel to match. Once you’ve achieved couchlock, grab a drink to soothe your parched mouth and stockpile some snacks to munch while your favorite streaming service runs. Careful though, if you’re prone to munchies, your snacks are in peril.

Stoned and full, bedtime will be bliss. With the worries of the day tucked away and the relaxing vibe of the indica flowing in your body, get ready for a killer nap. The tossing and turning of stress will seem miles away.

Why does indica make us so chill?

Terpenes are the answer, my friend.

Myrcene indica vs sativa

Photo Credit: Leafly

Simply put, terpenes are the odiferous oils found in the sticky resins of plants. They’re responsible for the pungent smells found in the cannabis bud. The most common terpenes found in cannabis are limonene, pinene, myrcene, linalool, and caryophyllene.

Indica strains tend to be heavy in myrcene, which is the terpene responsible for its sedative effects. You know the good smell when you open the container from the dispensary? Yeah, you do. That earthen smell is myrcene and it lets you know your weed selection is going to be just what you need to relax.

Myrcene is not alone in indica. Typically, pinene and limonene are found in lower amounts in the subspecies as well. Pinene and limonene offer the elevation and euphoria weed is known for, but the smaller concentrations occurring in the indica strains allow the sedative myrcene greater power. Research your strains and the concentrations of terpenes within to discover the other nuances you can expect besides the relaxation and great mood. Terpenes are heavy in medicinal benefits too, but right now, it’s all about the feels. On that note, let’s turn now to the sativa subspecies and have a look at the cerebral high it offers.

indica vs sativa while hikingSativa strains buzz the brain and lift a bad mood right out of the dumps. The high works hard in the head and rather than the sweet sedation of indica, the sativa high is a motivated, uplifted force of good in your life. While sativa strains don’t generally offer a deep body high, it still fills you full with happy feels. With mind and body joyful, inspiration finds the user and creativity soars.

Working on a project, something stirred by your passions? Hit your favorite sativa strain for creativity, maybe some Kali Mist, and the ideas won’t stop. Get ready for the influx and don’t worry a bit over focus. Sativa tames stimulated thoughts into pure motivation.

If you need to clean your house, get high on sativa and you’ll want to crank the music and get busy. You won’t stop until the job is done and you’ve organized the sock drawer you’ve been swearing up and down you’d get to one day. Once the socks are done, head out to your favorite social scene. With your energy still leveled up, sativa will coax out the social butterfly inside you for a great time with friends.

Remember the pinene and limonene found in small amounts within indica? Sativa strains are packed full with the pair and, just as their names suggest, one can expect piney and citrusy fragrances from their sativa. From the high, anticipate a great mood, creative genius, and an absence of stress. Sound good? Yeah, it does.

Want the best of both worlds?

You need a hybrid strain.

Designed to cure the whole rainbow of what makes you feel wrong, hybrids offer a customized high thanks to the blend of indica and sativa in one bud. With so many amazing hybrids available, one is bound to find their ideal weed. One example, say you have an intimate gathering to attend and being chill is the way, but sparkling conversation is a must, turn to Fruity Pebbles. An indica-heavy strain great for body relaxation coupled with the brain high of the sativa side of this blend, you can expect to be relaxed but still ready to be part of the repartee.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what we know about the indica vs sativa effects:


  • Calming “in ‘da couch”
  • Deep body buzz
  • Mellow, carefree thoughts
  • Look out for the munchies
  • Sleepy-time weed
  • Chilling at home or somewhere low-key


  • Uplifting
  • Stimulated brain buzz
  • Inspired creativity
  • Focused, high energy
  • Social scenes are your friend

Of course, it’s all about personal preference, but here are a few pairing suggestions when it comes to indica vs sativa or even a hybrid for some activities where you might like to be stoned:

What you’re doing

Indica, sativa, or hybrid

Why this choice is boss

A day at the beachIndicaThe sun is warm and what better way to get mellow in the sand.
At a concertSativaFeel the music while you dance.
Working outSativaGet hyped during your gains session.
Playing a video gameSativa or HybridYou need focus to level up, sativa will help. But, video games go great with the couch, so maybe a hybrid for the focus and the chill.
Reading a bookIndica or HybridReading is one the most calming pastimes on the planet, relaxation is key. A hybrid can keep you deep in the pages for hours.
Writing a blog, book, short story…SativaLights up the brain with creativity and sucks you into super-focus mode.
Getting a tattooIndicaIt’s going to hurt and you’ll need something to chill you out in the chair.
HangoverHybridBecause you need all the help you can get; hit the dual-blend.

Good for What Ails You

Research has proven time and again marijuana’s effectiveness in the treatment of a vast spectrum of disorders and diseases. From mild aggravations to severe flare-ups, anyone suffering can find relief with the various options for weed consumption. Available in old-fashioned bud, vaping oils, edible form, and even salves for the skin, cannabis can be consumed in whatever fashion suits as user.

Those seeking cannabis for medical treatment have the choice of THC-potent strains or non-euphoria inducing CBD strains. Users in states with legalized medical marijuana can smoke their THC-heavy strains without legal ramifications once they’ve gone through the proper permitting. It’s getting a little easier every day for people to access medical marijuana, but there is still a fight ahead for THC. Luckily, the growing influx of cannabidiol products, or CBD, to the market has made treating illness with marijuana a bit easier. Available almost everywhere one turns, even infused into beauty products, symptom relief through CBD oil is at your fingertips. CBDs provide a chance for those not after the high of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to score the medical benefits of weed.

Now, do indica or sativa strains contain a higher CBD concentration?  Once again when it comes to indica vs sativa it is rumored that indica strains tend to be THC heavier while sativa contains more CBD. Or, is it the other way around? Reading on the matter provides a mixed bag of info, so perhaps concentrating on certain strains may be the way to go when hunting for symptom relief.

With the healthy amount of hybrids on the market, one has the choice of focusing on strains to treat specific symptoms. Putting much thought into the illnesses afflicting the world, growers create strains with certain effects in mind. Whether that’s a blend for max relaxation coupled with a creative boost or an energy blast that comes with anxiety relief, users will find their magic slipper among the green thanks to growers and their imaginations.

Use this information as a general guidepost as to how each subspecies performs in the name of medical use. Below are two lists of issues treated by cannabis. These are short lists, so if you don’t see the ailment affecting you listed here, read on anyhow. Check out the symptoms treated by each subspecies and then begin a hunt for your specific condition. Whether in CBD form or THC potent, cannabis treats so many conditions, addressing them all in one post would be impossible.


  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Cancer symptoms and chemotherapy side effects
  • Arthritis
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Autoimmune disorders


  • HIV and AIDS
  • Mood disorders
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Migraines

Again, this is just a small mention of the different illness and diseases treated by marijuana. A tour of Google will reveal a long list of results regarding cannabis and its medical effectiveness. In this breakdown, let’s review what symptoms indica and sativa are best suited to treat.

Indica treats symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety and nervous energy
  • Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Migraines and headaches

Sativa soothes such symptoms as:

  • Fatigue
  • Low moods
  • Lack of concentration and memory fogs

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety turns a normal day into a nightmare of worry. The worry can range from internal turmoil over how one is being perceived by peers and colleagues to worries over outside forces crashing into us, stripping away control. Other anxieties force people into routines that can’t be broken, ruling their lives with the need for repetition. Panic attacks cripple a person, the fear brought on by their own brain breaking down the capacity to live a normal life.

Now, imagine quieting down that restless voice inside with a little bit of cannabis oil. For some anxiety suffers, marijuana proves a great tool, whether a THC strain or a CBD. Yet, here again, we arrive at another showdown, indica vs sativa anxiety round.

Knowing what we’ve learned about the two so far, one of the subspecies is known for its sedative qualities and proves a near-absolute winner in backing down the tension of anxiety. User experience proves indica strains or indica-heavy hybrids most effective in quieting anxiety. Versus sativa which has a tendency to keep a person in their head, which may seem adverse for anxiety and panic sufferers, but if social anxiety is an issue, the stress of mingling with others could be well addressed with a hybrid. Indica soothes the nerves while the sativa makes for “socializing ease”. But, general anxiety sufferers should hang close to indica dominant strains.

Need a recommendation? Try a strain like Northern Lights for anxiety and stress relief, a natural indica full of the terpene myrcene, a.k.a. the good stuff that helps you chill.

Chronic Pain

A body constantly in pain drains the quality of life for the sufferer. Add the detrimental effects of opioids and the life is lived in a vicious circle of pain and dependency. Break the cycle with cannabis. States where marijuana has found legalization have reported falling percentages in the number of people dependent on opioids. Patients suffering from chronic pain are turning to weed to ease their discomfort, coming to realize a plant as medicine seems far safer than a concoction of chemicals.

For pain, try indica strains heavy in both THC and CBD concentrations. These cannabinoids go to work at the source of the pain, finding the inflamed nerves and urging them to quiet down. Afghan Kush is a supreme example, one of the top providers of pain relief in the indica field.


Awake in the night? Trying to sleep, but just can’t because you’re stuck in a chronic battle of tossing and turning? Cannabis might be the cure your insomnia needs. Try a little indica at night. Sleep will be a dream thanks to strains packed with myrcene and caryophyllene, the earthy and peppery terpenes. Both terpenes are highly effective against insomnia.

Nausea and Loss of Appetite

Feeling green in the gut?

Appetite flagging?

Cannabis oil and candy are the help your troubled belly needs. Cancer symptoms and the chemotherapy side effects that go along with treatment are big causes of nausea and suppressed appetite. A host of other conditions, like HIV or AIDS, gastrointestinal diseases, and eating disorders, also cause the digestive system major grief. With the ability to take cannabis in all forms whether THC potent or CBD heavy, those suffering gastric distress and a lethargic appetite can find relief and maybe enjoy around of the “munchies” as the body’s endocannabinoids and weed’s cannabinoids collide for an appetite boost.

An indica strain is the ultimate go-to for inducing appetite. Heavy on the myrcene, the magical terpene of relaxation, indica will settle the digestive tract, helping it to function in the right way. A relaxed body has a better chance at having all its systems working correctly.

Be sure to avoid strains high in the terpene humulene though. Humulene acts an appetite suppressant, not what you need when your tummy is already struggling. Have a visit to your local dispensary and chat with your favorite “bud-tista”. Dispensary employees are trained to know what strains best help what symptoms. Their advice will have your appetite back on track.

Migraines and Headaches

indica vs sativa for headaches

Migraines are a form of headache presenting with visual and speech disturbances, vomiting, and excruciating head pain. Imagine an ice pick drilling through your brain. Ouch, right?

Even if your headache isn’t a migraine, headaches are still a pain. The discomfort they cause interrupts your whole day. Worse yet, headaches can come from all different sources, ranging from internal factors to outside influences. Whatever issue causes the headache, maybe PMS or even a stressful day at work, an indica strain will stop the hurt. Full of that wonderful myrcene and high concentrations of THC, indica strains can sedate the headache right out of you. The indica subspecies has also proven relief to those suffering from chronic migraines, cutting down the number of days a month a sufferer gets hit with a headache.


Being tired from a night of no sleep makes for a trying day. Imagine if you were forced to live with such a feeling all the time even when you’re getting more than enough rest. Your body and spirit caught in a crushing lack of energy, responsible for stealing your thunder and weakening the muscles with exhaustion. Not only can cancer and its treatments bring on such an issue, so can other conditions like fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions, anemia, diabetes, and depression.

Not just a problem for the ill, fatigue is a problem of everyday life. You don’t have to be sick to be tired. Sometimes, our bodies just flag and keeping up energy is a chore.

Again, we must turn to an examination of terpenes and where fatigue is concerned, its pinene and limonene that can elevate energy levels. Higher concentrations of pinene and limonene are found in the sativa subspecies and coupled with lower amounts of THC, sativa strains are perfect to get you up and moving. Try Durban Poison for an energetic, happy outlook to your day.

Low Moods

Bad days happen and they cause rotten moods, but there is a difference between occasionally feeling blue and living in a place of despair on a daily basis. Mood disorders, like major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, can cause extreme mood swings outside a sufferer’s control. When the swing takes you down low, a sativa strain can help lift you back up.

Turning to the terpenes, limonene is known to elevate moods and from our earlier discussion on terpenes in strains, we know sativa is packed full of it. In fact, according to Marijuana Break, sativa strains contain an average of two-thirds more limonene than indica or hybrid strains. When moods fall dark, reach for a sativa strain and gain a sunnier outlook on your day.

Lack of Concentration and Memory Fogs

ADD and ADHD are notorious for their ability to steal a person’s focus while they go about their everyday tasks. Fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases are terrible about creating brain fogs, those fuzzy moments when thinking suddenly becomes an epic chore. The best way to clear the haze in your thoughts and gain total focus for whatever needs doing? You guessed it. With its lower concentrations of THC, a sativa strain won’t zap focus or challenge thinking skills the way indica can.

Remember, cannabis can offer relief for whatever ails you, but if you have no experience with marijuana or are suffering an illness, please check with your doctor before trying cannabis products. Remember, weed treats everyone differently. While it may be a miracle plant for most of us, for some, it triggers feelings of anxiety or paranoia. Always use caution and start slowly when trying new things.

The Long-Rooted Origins of Indica vs Sativa

Cannabis existed well before humans populated the land, scientific endeavors proving the plant’s long origins and the changes it underwent before humans discovered its many properties. Once plucked by human hands, cannabis became an important tool used in medicine, industry, and holy ceremonies. If we’re thinking honestly, weed was probably used for a general good time way back then too.

Carl Linnaeus

Photo: Carl Linnaeus

jean baptiste lamarck

Photo: Jean Baptiste Lamarck

Through our long history, cannabis has seen a long list of names and nicknames. The scientific naming of cannabis as we know it today occurred in the mid-eighteenth century and can be attributed to a Swedish botanist named Carl Linnaeus, his classification of the plant coming to be known as cannabis sativa. At the time of Linnaeus’s identification, it was thought cannabis was one single species. The species Linnaeus worked with is now our modern sativa. Not until a few decades later, in the 1780s, was the second species of the cannabis plant identified by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. He named the find cannabis indica. His choice of names is kind of confusing, leading one to think the indica subspecies originated in India, but indica’s origins are Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Hindu Kush Mountains, which stand sentinel over the Middle East.

While indica found roots in cooler temperatures, sativa originated in the tropical lands closest to the equator, the sun-drenched region allowing for a lanky plant reaching heights of up to twelve feet. The tall, thin nature of the sativa plant yields a wispy-leafed bud. Unlike its sativa sibling, indica plants are squat and thick with leaves, its tight nature protecting it from the rocky landscape of the mountains. The dense flowers of indica give us the tight, thick buds we’re accustomed to.

Indica vs Sativa Effects Overall

Cannabis has been a plant of distinction since first coming to human hands. From industry to medicine, cannabis has been a useful tool. With the identification of separate subspecies within the cannabis genus, an idea has been realized. Indica vs sativa offer different feelings and benefits to its user. We know cannabinoid levels and terpene profiles differ within each strain of indica or sativa. These mixes offer a range of benefits, treating a broad field of medical symptoms. Weed isn’t just medicine though. Those varying strains offer us a mess of good feels too. So, whether your into weed for medical reasons, good times, or both, remember that indica and sativa offer different highs, so plan accordingly!

Indicaindica vs sativa chart

  • Sedative couch-lock
  • Body relaxation
  • Stress and anxiety reduction
  • Maximum pain relief
  • Sleep-aid
  • Soothes upset stomachs
  • Induces appetite
  • Treats headaches
  • Short, leafy plant
  • Tight, dense buds


  • Elevated energy
  • Cerebral high
  • Stimulated creativity
  • Strong focus power
  • Great for socializing
  • Mood booster
  • Tall, thin plant
  • Long, wispy buds

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